Barrington Court, down in Somerset, was Billy’s first proper National Trust day out with other children. We met a friend and her two kids there, and Billy was seemingly not at all put out by not being the only tiny person there. But that may just be my memory, for we visited this one during a period where Billy was violently anti-sleep. To say that things are a tad on the hazy side may be a bit of an understatement. I have a cleared memory of the 2002 Reading Festival, and that one’s known as “The Reading I Don’t Remember.”
I have a vague impression of a big old Tudor house that looked like it would make an excellent location for a period drama, and some very pretty daffodils. I feel like there was perhaps a small bridge over a moat at one point, but there’s every chance that I’ve made that up. I do think about moats more than is reasonable for a woman living in 21st century Bristol.
There are a few things I do recall clearly, though, such as the excellent lawn outside of the cafe, where Billy was able to lie on the grass and kick about while collecting the admiration of passing adults. God, how he loves to collect admiring glances. He even managed to make friends with a very nice 18 month old girl, despite the fact that at this point in his life he was yet to even master the art of holding his own head up. My friend’s slightly older kids, meanwhile, had a lovely time playing some of the traditional games that were out on the lawn. And I sat there, wondering if it would be poor form to lie down next to Billy and just go to sleep.
In the end, I decided it would be. I a little bit regret that decision to this day.
A little bit baffling. The all-important cakes were on a dresser in the corridor, and it wasn’t immediately apparent that there was more seating available back behind where you paid for everything. But, admittedly, there is every chance that the baffling seating arrangements weren’t actually that baffling after all, and I was just having one of my sleep-deprived idiot phases. They happen quite a lot.
What I do recall clearly, however, is a definite lack of gluten free brownie. Some people tend to judge an establishment on the quality of their toilets, but I judge on their gluten free brownie, so I’m afraid Barrington has to lose some points here.
Speaking of toilets, though, the baby change was absolutely massive and full of quite fun period features. I may have pretended that I was in Downton Abbey whilst in there. Just a weird version of Downton Abbey where they change nappies on a plastic pull-down table.
Given that Billy was being a bit tricky, he spent most of his time here in the sling – but not until I’d got the buggy out and decided I was just too damn tired to return it to the car. And so I found myself pushing an empty buggy all around the grounds, and from what I recall it wasn’t too difficult. There were a few occasions where it had to be left outside, but that was to head into the amazing arts and crafts shops that were surprisingly lurking off to one side. Honestly, when I first saw the fabric shop I assumed it was a hallucination, but no. There really was that much amazing fabric randomly for sale at a National Trust property.
We didn’t go into the house – partly because it’s empty, partly because we had three children in tow – but I assume the usual “no buggies” rule applies.
I have no memory of any particularly outstanding dogs, but this was before Billy was aware enough of the world to realise that dogs were both a thing, and a thing he absolutely loved. On our inevitable return visit I’ll make sure to bark loudly and see who comes running.
Oh God knows. Looking back at my photos of the day makes me think it must’ve been a pleasant day out, and it definitely wins many points for the fabric shop. I’ll have to go back just to be sure. And maybe buy some fabric while I’m there.